Trafficking victims would not be prosecuted for prostitution; helmets, prop taxes discussed

March 17th, 2016

By Fred Knapp

Lincoln, NE – People would not be prosecuted for prostitution if they could show they were victims of human trafficking under a bill advancing in the Nebraska Legislature. Senators also debated a new wrinkle on repealing the state’s helmet law. And they scheduled a public hearing next week on a proposal to help farmers and ranchers with their property taxes.

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City Council paves way for outdoor gun range

March 16th, 2016

By Ryan Robertson

The Omaha Police Department is one step closer to getting an outdoor shooting range at the Police & Fire Training Facility. Omaha City Council members discussed the plan during Tuesday’s Council meeting

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Senators wrestling with ag prop tax relief; higher park fees, roads funding advancing

March 16th, 2016

By Fred Knapp

Lincoln, NE – The Nebraska Legislature is considering alternatives to relieve property taxes for farmers and ranchers. And higher fees for state parks moved one step closer to approval.

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Medicaid Expansion, Food Stamps For Felons Discussed In Legislature

March 10th, 2016

By Fred Knapp

A new plan to pay for Medicaid expansion; food stamps for felons, and a senator’s encounter with a state trooper were subjects for discussion Wednesday in the Nebraska Legislature

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NU search secrecy, property tax relief, medical marijuana discussed in Legislature

March 9th, 2016

By Fred Knapp

Lincoln, NE – A proposal for added secrecy in searches for University of Nebraska leaders is advancing in the Legislature. Negotiations continue on property tax relief. And medical marijuana legislation is being reworked before going back up for debate.

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Omaha City Council delays decision on outdoor shooting range

March 9th, 2016

By Ryan Robertson

Omaha City Seal in the Legislative Chambers

Omaha City Seal in the Legislative Chambers

Omaha City Council members put off a vote that could pave the way for an outdoor shooting range within the City’s jurisdiction.


It was a fairly ho-hum agenda before Council members this week.

As expected, the Council voted unanimously to lay-over a vote to amend a special use permit for the city’s Police and Fire Training Facility located at Rainwood and Blair High Roads in a semi-rural area of northwest Omaha.

The Omaha Police Department wants Council members to lift the ban on the outdoor discharge of firearms at the facility. The ban was put in place by a previous Council in 2000.

If the ban is lifted, OPD said it will build a 24 lane, outdoor shooting range at the site. OPD maintains the range is necessary so officers can receive proper training. Neighbors expressed concerns over the level of noise that would come from the range, as well as safety concerns.

The proposed outdoor range is within a mile of Davis Middle School.

Councilwoman Aimee Melton, who proposed the one-week layover, said she met with some residents and city officials last week and discussed the plans to build the range. She said this range would be safer than most, because only trained law enforcement will use the range, not the public.

“I think also just looking at the elevation, where you have a hill on one side, baffling on the other and the fact there’s going to be a range master that’s going to be there at all times,” Melton said, “I think [those things] alleviated the safety issues [for residents].”

 It’s expected to cost around $2.5 million to build the range. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has already said it would pitch in $1.2 million towards the cost.

The Council should vote on the ordinance next week.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Council members voted to approve a preliminary plat of Lakeview Point, a proposed 40-acre subdivision located northwest of 168th and Fort Streets. Developers are proposing mixed use office/retail space, along with single family houses and townhomes.

Jaime Suarez, speaking on behalf of Lakeview Point, told Council members what sets this development apart from others, is the fact it will be built around a 220-acre lake.

“The truly unique aspect of this development is the proposed pier that we [want] to build,” Suarez said, “The unique experience will offer handicapped accessibility, the potential to offer different events such as farmers markets and tasting cook-offs, and to just host various community events.”

Again, the Council was just voting on a preliminary plat, so don’t plan any fishing trips to the Lakeview Point Pier just yet.

The final item of note from Tuesday’s meeting came from the consent agenda. Councilman Pete Festersen wanted to call attention to a resolution approving the design contract for phase II of the Florence Business District Renovation Project.

“After approval of this, we’ll move to final design and then to construction bids this summer,” Festersen said.

He continued, “If you haven’t been to Florence recently, I encourage anyone to check it out. These improvements from Willit Street to State, State Street to Mormon–so right in the heart of the business district there–it’s doing great. It’s got several new restaurants that are open. No More Empty Pots is expanding there, so we’re very proud of the progress there and [passing the ordinance] will continue that effort.”

The Florence Neighborhood is one of the oldest in Omaha. The renovation project is designed to improve area sidewalks, add more lighting, and make parking easier.

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